September 18, 2018

Baseball leagues sanction PawSox move to Worcester

A rendering of the proposed Polar Park in Worcester's Canal District, slated to be the new home of the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2021.

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the International League have all approved of the deal to move the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester.

Team Chairman Larry Lucchino made the announcement Monday night as the team celebrated the move at City Hall.

"It is now official," he said to a crowd of hundreds.

The celebration -- which included celebrity appearances from Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez and Red Sox color commentator Jerry Remy -- capped off several weeks of excitement since city and PawSox officials announced the move August 17.

The team hopes to begin playing in what would be called Polar Park in the Canal District by spring 2021, but everything must be completed on time with little room for error so the roughly $90 million ballpark can be built for the start of the season.

The league approvals come shortly after the City Council approved the $101 million financing package that has the city borrowing the full amount. The team will pay back around $30 million in annual rent payments over 30 years and contribute another $6 million in equity for the project. Worcester will pick up the rest of that debt.

Now, the city and team must complete the design of the ballpark and choose an owner's project manager by Oct. 10. Permitting, land acquisitions and other regulatory milestones must be achieved by July 1 next year.

The overall $240 million project includes 65,000-square feet of new retail space, restaurants and two hotels in the adjacent vacant Wyman-Gordon parcel. The city hopes revenues from those developments will be able to fund debt payments for the project.

A reconstruction of Kelley Square is also planned, and the state will pitch in at least $35 million for the construction of a parking garage, market-rate housing incentives and other infrastructure work.

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